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Best of Toronto

The Best Food Courts in Toronto

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo / April 18, 2012

Food courts TorontoFood courts in Toronto have had a bit of a resurgence of late. From re-modeled downtown food courts like the Urban Eatery to street vendor style set-ups like 214 Augusta Avenue, there's even more reason these days to be excited about your favourite lunch options all being in one place. The best food courts in Toronto distinguish themselves from the cookie-cutter mall variety with more interesting options than just a collection of Subways, Manchu Woks or McDonalds.

Not home to your typical fast food chains, these Toronto food courts provide proof that eating with a crowd of people in a communal space is actually something to look forward to.

Here's a list of the best food courts in Toronto.

Pacific Mall
4300 Steeles Avenue East Markham
The undisputed king of Asian malls in the GTA, this shopping goliath in Markham actually features two separate food courts: the rather cramped older one, which offers many Cantonese dishes and even some dim sum delicacies, and the newer one ironically designed with an old-town China feel. Inside it offers a wide range of regional specialties such as Japanese cream puffs from Beard Papa's, Yummie's Hong Kong style egg waffles, bento boxes from Japanese Express, bubble tea, dumplings and fresh hand made noodles at Sun's Kitchen.

Urban EateryUrban Eatery
220 Yonge Street, North side, lower level
This is the only food court on this list that has its own name - and for good reason. Newly redecorated and revamped, this Eaton Centre food court is a stellar example of the ultra-modern food court experience. With real cutlery, reusable dishes, Danish-designed furniture and the presence of lots of popular, small local-chains (Urban Herbivore, Big Smoke Burger, Amaya), this is a place that makes braving the check-out lines at H&M worth it.

MustachioSt Lawrence Market
91 Front Street East
Not your typical restaurant-chain-laden food court, the lower level of St. Lawrence market is awash with numerous independent merchants all eager to serve up a sampling of freshly prepared food. Best of the bunch are freshly made crepes from Crepe it Up, potato latkes and other Eastern-European delicacies from European Delight, massive sandwiches from Mustachio and raw food at Cruda Cafe.

Village by the GrangeVillage by the Grange
53 McCaul Street
Located directly across the street from OCAD and the AGO, this always bustling food court is home to a wide variety of eats that are easy on the wallet. At the top of my list is Manpuku, a self-described modern Japanese eatery, that serves up fresh takoyaki, five types of udon soup and Japanese curry. Also noteworthy are Karine's for all day breakfast and other healthy eats, Mission burrito, Pita Village and Helena's Magic Kitchen.

214 Augusta214 Augusta
While the traditional definition of a food court places it in a mall or some larger complex, the burgeoning food destination at 214 Augusta is quickly becoming an unavoidable Kensington Market pit stop. Mexican and South American street food rules the day here at vendors like Agave y Aguacate and Rebozos but not to be bypassed are Portuguese salt cod fritters at Avo and Macondo's Colombian empanadas. Seating is almost non-existent save for a makeshift back patio during warmer months.

First Markham PlaceFirst Markham Place
3275 Hwy 7 East, Markham
Located within the bowels of one of Markham's busiest Chinese malls, this food court offers a wide variety of Asian food offerings. There are numerous bubble tea shops, decent noodles at Malay Thai, large bowls of soup at Pho Ling's and delicious Korean BBQ. The fact that Chinese seniors often use the open spot right in the middle of the food court to practice tai chi practically guarantees you free morningtime entertainment.

Metro Square MarkhamMetro Square
3636 Steeles Ave East, Markham
This small food court near Steeles and the 404 offers a small but diverse array of Asian food. Try the tasty Taiwanese pork chops (courtesy of Chin Yuan Pai Ku), sushi and bento boxes at Spicy Korea or cheap combo deals at New Fountain. Bonus points for the recent renovation although it's still no Urban Eatery.

TD Centre Food CourtTD Centre
66 Wellington Street West
Arguably the most corporate food court to make this list, TD Centre (conveniently located within the PATH Network) manages to rise above the myriad of quick service destinations in the Financial District. Long time lunchers here will recall this as the first location of the now international Freshii (formerly Lettuce Eatery) chain. There are around 20 restaurant options, modern seating and decor (to pair well with that new suit) and a steady line-up for burritos courtesy of Freshwest Grill.

Downsview Merchants MarketDownsview Merchant's Market
40 Carl Hall Rd, North York
Tucked away at the back of the Downsview Merchant's Market, this sprawling food court is comprised solely of independent retailers eager to feed hungry shoppers with a smorgasbord of international cuisine. Where else can you eat Lebanese, French, Chinese and Caribbean food by just moving 6 feet to your right (or left)? Wash everything down with a sour sop with pineapple juice at Juicy Hut, the popular local juice stand.

Plaza LatinaPlaza Latina
9 Milvan Drive
This obscure spot near Finch and Weston Road is the very definition of a hidden gem. The main attraction at an otherwise ramshackle Latino mall, this food court is teaming with tasty eats from Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and beyond. Pair regional specialties such as empanadas, pupusas and tacos with an Inca Kola but save some room for some churros for dessert.

Top photo by Natasha M on Flickr

Discussion

26 Comments

Paul / April 18, 2012 at 09:54 am
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I've been really impressed with the food court re-vamp at the eaton centre. Well done!

Also IQ Foods at TD Centre is amazing!
Shawn / April 18, 2012 at 10:03 am
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This is probably the most complete/accurate list I've seen on BlogTO. I haven't been to 2 places so I can't comment but the others all deserve to be on the list.
Bob / April 18, 2012 at 10:41 am
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I'm sorry but IQ Foods is totally overrated.
The Other Neil / April 18, 2012 at 10:51 am
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Karine's $5 breakfast at Village on the Grange is Toronto's best kept secret. Was.
Pierre Nick / April 18, 2012 at 10:55 am
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And then there's the food pavilion during the CNE... Love it or hate it!
jw / April 18, 2012 at 11:19 am
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@Shawn, totally agree!
Brad / April 18, 2012 at 11:20 am
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I don't understand the draw for IQ. Anyone that frequents it, can you please explain why it's so great? i see it every day with a line up that looks like something from Canada's Wonderland.
Shannon / April 18, 2012 at 11:22 am
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I love the new Urban Eatery at the Eaton Centre... Nothing like eating Teriyaki Experience out of a bowl and not a flimsy plastic container!! yum yum
Charlie Bravo replying to a comment from Paul / April 18, 2012 at 11:36 am
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I'm with Bob on this one... IQfoods is CRAZY over rated, if you buy a hot box it's not even half full of food.
Charlie Bravo replying to a comment from Brad / April 18, 2012 at 11:39 am
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I've spoken with a Manager of another fresh food vendor at the TD Centre... Told me that in speaking with his previously regular customers now lined up at IQ Foods, most tell him they switched just because they needed a change, not because it's any better.

It's just the nature of the business I guess?
Alex / April 18, 2012 at 11:42 am
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Urban Eatery is great, much more comfortable than your average food court.

I disagree about FMP though, that place just screams health problems and I know people that got sick after eating there (I generally try to avoid eating there). Plus I've seen a cockroach crawling around, and you know how it goes with roaches: for every one you can see there are a ton you can't. Not to mention that it has ZERO variety, it's just an all-asian mall with an all-asian food court, so if you don't like asian food you're screwed.
brad replying to a comment from Charlie Bravo / April 18, 2012 at 11:42 am
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I guess that makes some sense, but considering there is such a huge variety of downtown options, i surprised they are all opting for IQ. it reminds me of the lineups that used to exist at Freshii
cathy / April 18, 2012 at 11:44 am
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I hardly ever eat at the new Eaton centre food court. It's always too crowded and there's no seating. (Which means plenty of other people like it, I guess.)

I usually get a take out bento from the Japanese place by the escalators. The crepe place was good (I had a sandwich) but the burger place next to it was horrible. I don't understand why their line is always so long.
Slob Whored / April 18, 2012 at 11:56 am
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I was in Etobicoke on the weekend - they want casinos.
Sam I Am / April 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm
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Plaza Latin on milvan in north york is the best, what a hidden gem!
Anna F. / April 18, 2012 at 01:04 pm
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Great list! Totally agree with the inclusion of Village by the Grange, Downsview Market, and that Latin American place on Milvan. I've been reluctant to try the Eaton Centre food court, but you've made me curious now!
MrPotato / April 18, 2012 at 01:31 pm
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Downsview? Are u kidding me?
Peter / April 18, 2012 at 02:00 pm
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This is such an informative list. I feel like such a dope for never having been to the 214 Augusta and VBTG food courts, despite having lived in the area for years!

Are these places well advertised from the street?
Shawn replying to a comment from Peter / April 18, 2012 at 06:27 pm
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Not at all. 214 August actually looks like a hole in the wall and is very non-descript and the Grange has signs somewhat visible next to the AGO and 52 Division but they're not THAT prominent. Check it out on Google Street View and you'll see what I mean.
Arlene / April 19, 2012 at 06:57 am
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Love this article! I have re-fallen in love with Kensington market thanks to avo's at 214 Augusta!!
Arlene / April 19, 2012 at 06:59 am
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@Peter- Avo's has a brightly coloured sign above the entrance so look for that. ;)
Stimpy replying to a comment from Charlie Bravo / April 29, 2012 at 02:56 am
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I'd rather have quality than quantity, if it had to be only one and IQ has pretty good quality food. It will lose its wow factor eventually, however.
Kat / August 6, 2012 at 08:11 pm
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I don't consider it to be Toronto if I can't get there on my bike, so I'm not sure why there are so many Markham options.
Roman replying to a comment from Kat / August 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm
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that is ridiculous. scarborough IS a part of toronto. i guess the limits you placed on geography, reflect the limited intelligence of your brain.
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm
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Plaza Latin on milvan in north york is the best, what a hidden gem!
Matt King / April 23, 2013 at 07:20 pm
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wheres the map?

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